Study: Most stolen cars and trucks-auto theft is up 42 percent in cities

a black car with a license plate by Vitali Adutskevich is licensed under Unsplash

I ran a statewide auto theft campaign when I was the director of public information for the Maryland Department of Public Safety.

Auto theft was reduced considerably when we ran radio and television ads encouraging people to use steering locking devices.

Auto theft is currently exploding and may push property crime rates up for the first time in decades.

Violent crime has increased for some years since 2015 via the National Crime Victimization Survey from The Bureau of Justice Statistics and the FBI (it may be receding via data from cities for 2023) but auto theft has been down in past years.

Why has it exploded? There are videos regarding types of vehicles showing people how easy it is to steal select cars. Keyless entry systems have also created problems.

It’s always intrigued me that there seem to be mechanisms that communicate with the criminal class in America; it’s as if they have their own digital newsletter.

From The Hill (Congress' newspaper)

The most frequently stolen vehicles in 2022, according to the NICB, were:

  1. Chevrolet pickup (full size)
  2. Ford pickup (full size)
  3. Honda Civic
  4. Honda Accord
  5. Hyundai Sonata
  6. Hyundai Elantra
  7. Kia Optima
  8. Toyota Camry
  9. GMC pickup (full size)
  10. Honda CR-V

In 2022, reports of vehicle thefts rose 7% over the previous year, the NICB said.

“Approximately one motor vehicle is stolen every 32 seconds, which adds up to more than one million vehicles stolen last year,” said NICB President and CEO David J. Glawe.

From Jeff Asher And The Status of Auto Theft Based On City Data For 2023

“A 6 percent increase in property crime doesn’t sound like much, but property crime nationally fell 19 straight years between 2003 and 2021 and in 28 of the last 30 years — 2022 data is not yet available. Any increase in property crime would represent a reversal of the long-term trend.

It isn’t hard to pinpoint what is driving the increase in property crime: auto thefts. Auto thefts began rising in July 2022 and there is not a ton of evidence that these crimes have started to fall yet.

Auto thefts in the sample are up an astounding 42 percent this year relative to last year with an increase occurring in 33 of the 42 available cities.

Removing auto thefts from the property crime counts in the 42 city sample would change the YTD difference in property crimes from +6 percent to -2.6 percent.”

There are seven cities with percentage increases of over 100 percent with Baltimore in the lead with close to a 200 percent increase.

How To Prevent Vehicle Thefts?

We all know the simplest actions to take; lock your doors, take your keys. Don’t leave valuables in your car or truck. Use a steering wheel locking device. Yes, it’s not foolproof but takes a determined thief to either cut the steering wheel or the lock and that takes time and attracts attention.

Catalytic Converter Theft

Catalytic converter thefts broke records last year but are declining nationwide and in nearly every state as the prices of precious metals tumble.


Vehicle theft is exploding and pushing up property crime rates for the first time in years because of videos and news reports as to how easy it is to steal them. Stolen vehicles have always been associated with transportation to crimes of violence. Some types of vehicles are stolen because of their popularity.

It’s time to return to the use of steering wheel locking devices, especially for the cars and trucks that are stolen most often.

See More

See more articles on crime and justice at Crime in America.

Most Dangerous Cities/States/Countries at Most Dangerous Cities.

US Crime Rates at Nationwide Crime Rates.

National Offender Recidivism Rates at Offender Recidivism.

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